Monday, August 24, 2020

Battle Report: Operation Hemlock- Black Ops

After discovering the link between the Adaconite smugglers and the Red Tower of Ammoriss the Throne Agents were left with an important choice on what to do next.  They had three choices:

  1. Trigger the recall signal and retreat back to the pick-up point. Doing this would probably be the safest course of action, but they would be no closer to unraveling the mystery of the smuggled Adaconite.
  2. They could delve to the source of the mining operation and try to discover what all these rounded-up mutants are actually mining. They had been working under the assumption that the mutants were mining Adaconite, but that assumption may have been a false flag operation to cover something even more sinister.
  3. Infiltrate a Data-Shrine located near the sub-Head of one of the Mineheads and insert a Data-Demon to try and track down the link between the Adaconite Gangs and the Red Tower.  This is a risky infiltration mission.

The team decided to try and infiltrate and insert the Data-demon.  For this mission, instead of Strange Aeons, we decided to look outside the box and play a game of Osprey's Black Ops instead.  Yeah, a chance to try a different game system!  

Led by Sgt. Major Bathory, the team decided to attempt to infiltrate the one of the Red Towers Data-shrines.  From a hardwired data input point, they can use one of Inquisitor Xanatos little tricks to install a Data-Demon to try and crack the Ad-Mechs data-sarcophagi and find any hidden links to lead the investigation.  

After reviewing several potential target sites, the Team decided to focus on a Data-shrine installed at a sub-head of one of the more older Adaconite Mines.  Normally, these Data-shrines were used by Tech-Priest overseers the amounts of Adacontie mined, work rotations, and other operational data.  This location was lightly defended compared to the others, and saw relatively little traffic.  The very fact that it was still operational was in itself a bit suspicious.

The team designated Twist as the carrier of the Data-Demon, while Father Robertus and Sgt. Major Bathory were going to provide cover and muscle.  With their plan in place, the team left their safe house, moved through the service tunnels, and infiltrated the abandoned mine.  From there, they made their way back up to the sub-minehead where the Data-Shrine was housed along with other basic facility operations.  As they approached, they could see Skitarri sentries moving within the sites perimeter.  


Throne Agents (Counts as Professionals)
Leader- Red Ace- Sgt Major Bathory - 9
- Veteran, Battle Rifle, Light Armor, Tough

Specialist- Red Queens- Father Robertus- 8.5
- Veteran, Heavy Pistol, Two-Handed Melee/Breaching Equipment, Tough 

Specialist- Red Queens- Sebastian Twist- 6
- Trained, Knife, Tough, Data-Demon (Hack), Treated as a Civilian until attack/use abilities 

Skitarri of the Red Tower 
3 Skitarri Soldiers- Black Jacks -Conscript Soldiers- 18
- Body Armor, Assault Rifle

1 Combat Servitor- Black Kings- Conscript Heavy- 7
- Body Armor, RPG

Sebastian Twist must enter the data-shrine (blue building) to upload the Data-Demon and then the team needs to withdraw.  It is best if they can accomplish the task undetected.  A partial success can still be accomplished if they manage to unload the Data-demon but are detected.  They fail if they can not upload the Data-Demon to the shrine.

This is Stealth Mission 3 in the Black Ops book.

This mission uses "The Compound Map" from the rulebook and set-up.  This will be consider to take place in darkness, so areas outside of the compound are heavy cover.  All areas are assumed to be dark unless they are within three inches of an active Laser Fence.  Then, they are illuminated as normal.

The Compound is surrounded by slag heaps, mine pits, and rocky outcroppings to help aid in the approach.  They are hard cover and block LOS.   

In addition, he Defender has 6 pennies to act as blinds.  These may or may not be guards. 

The compound is surrounded by a laser fence which is represented by bendy straws.  The Laser Fence is impassable terrain while it is operational.  The Laser Fence blocks movement.  However, it can be de-activated in the guard house or by hacking the entry servitor at the front gate.  Hacking the entry servitor at the Front Gate causes +1 Noise but when the fence goes down it does not cause additional Noise.  De-activating the Laser Fence with any other method will cause +3 Noise.  A laser fence can also be brought down as if breaching a door as the delicate connections are destroyed.   

The doors to the key buildings are also locked, so can be picked or knocked down as normal for the rules. 

Father Robertus and Sebastian Twist are preparing to move to the front of the compound through the outcroppings and darkness.  Sgt Major Bathory is with them to give covering fire as needed, while Robertus could breach the Laser Fence if Twist fails to hack it. 

The blinds indicate their maybe a guard in the guard house by the access servitor, one in the main building, and several on patrol in the compound.  3 of the blinds are actual Skitarri while three are not.  The Servitor is in the main building in hibernation unless the alarm is raised.

Turn 1: 
I prep my card deck for activation per the rules, even though some of the relevant units are not active yet.   

The first card is the red Joker, so Aces can act or order someone within 6 inches to act.  Sgt-Major Bathory moves up into a firing position on top of a dune amongst some slag rocks.  The darkness covers his movements. 

Next, the guards get to move about.  None of them are within 12 inches of the models, so they either stay in position, but a couple on patrol drift around.  At least, their blinds do. 

Red Queen comes up next, so Specialists get to go.  Since he looks like a civilian, Twist moves up towards the main access Servitor to the gate.  Father Robertus stays int he darkness and moves around the rocky outcropping and proceeds closer to the laser fence under the Sgt-Major's watchful aim. 

Next, an Ace comes up and Sergeant-Major Bathory decides to take a shot at the target in the guard house.  There is some scurrying through the rulebook, but a single Las-shots rings out and blasts through the observation screen of the shack.  Their is a splatter of blood and a sickening thump as the target goes down.  The Sgt-major gains 1 noise token.  His card comes up again, and he decides to hold position instead of firing at a potentially patrolling guard.  He does not want to give away his position and cause additional suspicion. 

A red Queen comes up and the two Specialists approach the fence.  I decide to give the Father a noise token as his actions probably look suspicions.  Since Twist looks like a civilian, he goes without noise.  They are now in position to either Hack the Servitor or smash through the fence as needed.  Twist makes an observation test on one of the blinds and determines it is a guard on patrol in the compound. 

A black King, but the Servitor is still in hibernation. 

A black Jack, so the Skitarri guards get to try and observe the enemy.  The guard that has been IDed by Twist turns and walks back towards the fence away from the spy.  The blind outside the target building moves towards the main building entrance, while the other continues to patrol inside the fence and away from the Throne Agents. 

The last card is the black King for the hibernating Servitor. 

Turn 2: 
The activation deck is shuffled. 

We start with the black Jack for the Ad-Mech patrols.  The revealed guard turns and walks the fence line away from our heroes.  The guard inside the compound fails to see Twist and walks back towards the target building.  The last guard continues his patrol on the far side of the large building outside of detection distance.   

The Guards pull the black Jack again.  They are all out of range for an Observation Check, so instead they drift towards the entrance 3 inches.  The Throne Agents will be able to try and Observe a few of the blinds. 

The Joker is pulled.  Sgt-Major Bathory tries to Identify the patrolling guard, but fails to see if he is a threat or not.  He holds his position and waits, his sights lining up the potential target.

Black King of the Servitor, who stays hibernating until the Alarm is activated. 

The red Ace allows Bathory to activate.  He cautiously creeps towards the potential guard, but can't get a good view through the glow of the fence.

The red Queen allows Twist and Robertus to act.  Twist is at the gate Servitor that formally asks him for access.  This is 1 Noise.  Twist uses the data-demon on the Servitor to try and turn off the entrance gate.  He is successful, and the laser gate fizzles off at the roadway.   Father Robertus moves to the open gateway and both fail to Observe the blind/guard inside.

The red Ace comes up.  With the Gate open, Bathory tries to see the patrol again, but is foiled by the red glow.  It is a difficult shot, but not as hard as the guard in the shack.  He decides on recon by fire, and takes a shot.  His shot misses the mark, and he prays to the Emperor that the bolt's flash was covered by the glow of the fence. 

The red Queen, so the Specialists get to go.  Father Robertus moves quickly and purposefully into the compound, he is followed closely by Twist.  The Priest identifies one of the Skitarri guards and draws his pistol and fires at close range.  The shot is on target, but a lound "ping" indicates that the Skitarri's cyber body absorbed the shot! 

The black King is the last card.  He is still hibernating.  For how much longer is unclear! 

Turn 3: 
The activation deck is shuffled back up. 

The black jack comes up for the Ad-mech soldiers.  Immediately, the Skitarri that was fired on starts calling for an alarm to be raised in the harsh buzzing static, machine language of the Ad-mech.  With that, the guards all activate and can attack as normal.  This could be bad for the Throne Agents. 

The Skitarri on the edge fires at Bathory.  Thankfully, his shots bounce off the nearby rocks with a sizzling hiss.  One of the guards rounds a nearby corner and opens fire on Father Robertus along with his friend.  Shots fill the area with acrid, crackling bolts of energy and one hits the priest and forces him to stumble back.  Thankfully, it hit him in his armored chest plate beneath his robes. 

The stealth part of the mission is over!  Time to hack that Data-tomb before things get really crazy!

With a Joker, Bathory fires on his attacker and hits him squarely in the chest.  However, the ad-mech warrior refuses to go down! 

The soldiers are activated again.  The one on Bathory strafes right but fails to get anywhere close to the guardsmen.  The guard at the corner fires into the Priest , but this time his stout Holy Book absorbs the hits.  The last guard barrels into the Priest trying to take him out.  The Priest blocks the blow with his forearm, and delivers  righteous hail of shots into the attackers gut.  It is enough to finish him off. 

This time, the red Queen comes out.  They have to act fast before the Combat Servitor activates.  Twist runs to the Data-vault and prepares to insert the Data-demon.  However, he was too far away to do it yet. 

Father Robertus holsters his pistol and hefts his hammer as he charges the last skitarri in their path.  The combat is inconclusive as the two duck and weave.

The red Queen comes out again.  This time, Twist gets the Data-demon working.  It worms its way into the data-tomb and begins its task of burrowing into the Ad-mechs data-archives.  He shouts his success through his vox-bead to begin extract. 

Father Robertus smashes the arm off the Skitarri he is fighting, but fails to land a killing blow as he keeps fighting!

With that, the doors to the main building open and the Combat Servitor heaves its way into view.  its flesh is decayed and rancoress due to lack of use and age.  Its optical systems scan the area, and it quickly identifies Father Robertus as a threat.  It begins to heave itself forward and charges into the whirling melee. 

Father Robertus sees the great behemoth coming and times his spin just right.  With a shout of "For the Emperor!" he spins and smashes his hammer alongside the Combat Servitor's head and smashes it into a bloody pulp.  The servitor stands for a moment, shudders, and falls motionless to the ground!

The black King comes out again, but the Combat Servitor has been destroyed by Father Robertus.  He is one mean, mother..... shut your mouth!

The last two Aces allows Bathory to trade fire with his opponent.  Again, he hits but can not seem to finish off the Skitarri warrior, his shots failing to find the weak point in his mechanical body. 

Turn 4: 
I remove the Black Kings from the deck, and shuffle them up again.  With their mission accomplished, the Throne Agents just need to extract successfully. 

The Black jack is first, so the Skitarri attack.  The one fighting with Father Robertus continues to hang in on the fight.  This time, the Father knocks him into the wall, but the Skitarri will not stop coming back for him! 

The other continues to walk back towards his base, firing as he goes.  he forces Bathory to keep his head down.  However, a snapshot from the Sergeant-Major blasts through the Skitarri's head and finally downs the cybernetic warrior for good. 

The last Skitarri and Father Robertus continue to be tied up in combat. 

On the red Queen cards, Twist jumps into the frey and manages to slash the Skitarri warrior's achille's tendon.  This forces the Skitarri to fall where Father Robertus smashes him with his hammer.  The battle is over. 

Sgt- Major Bathory runs to the entrance and yells to his comrades to, "Finish the job!"

Throne Agent succeed in their mission.  The Data-Demon has been inserted into the Red Tower of Ammoriss' systems. 

With the last defenders down, the Throne Agents went to work covering their tracks.  They ransacked the administrative building, tagged it with local gang signs, and destroyed any other evidence of their presence.  They looted some choice items and tossed them into the slag pits to make it look like a gang smash and grab for turf.  

Then, they slunk back out of the mine head and back to their safe house.  It would be a few more days before the Data-demon would start to send them usable intel.  They holed up, watched and waited.  

Here I went back to the post-game for Strange Aeons and rolled for puzzle pieces.  Through this process, Twist will uncover the next piece of the puzzle.  That is, once I figure out what it is.  I will then give the Throne Agents their next options to pursue the investigation.

Now, let's talk about how Black Ops actually worked on the table.  At first, I was going to ditch the activation cards and use a different method.  One faction only had a few cards, and the other faction had completely opposite cards.  However, after playing I am glad I didn't.  They actually worked really good to enhance tension and keep play a bit less predictable. 

Mechanically, I would prefer if better characters got to roll more dice to make them succeed more often.  The combat felt a bit swingy, with my Ace consistently failing to wound his foe or missing.  This was made up a bit by the Joker card allowing him to use his abilities a bit more often.  CQC was also a bit weird, but it ultimately worked.

There were a few times where models felt ludicrously close, but couldn't observe each other due to poor Observation rolls.  Ultimately, I ended up putting 1 more Skitarri foe in the battle then I intended because of a mix up on the blinds.  You are supposed to use playing cards, but I thought those took up too much space on a tight board.  The blinds also added a lot of fun to the game as I was unsure exactly where the enemy was going to be. 

Finally, it is important to note that Noise from all models is cumulative and can build up quickly.  Therefore, the Guards went from not paying much attention to alert VERY quickly once the team entered the compound.  That was fine by me.  The mechanics actually had the guards roaming around in a some what believable patrol pattern, which was cool. 

Overall, I think Black Ops did what I wanted to do in this mission better than Strange Aeons would have.  However, I think Strange Aeons has a way better campaign system.  I am sure as I progress in the investigation I might even use other rule sets to get the right game feel I am after.                  

Once again, Father Robertus is a slaughterbot for the Emperor, and Sgt-Major Bathory is left feeling a bit wanting.  However, all the models played their role pretty well in this game, with Twist being a good spy/hacker, Bathory shooting it out with the enemy (including an ace sniper shot to start out), and Father Robertus laying down the law of the Emperor up close.  Good times!     




1 comment:

  1. Nice battle report. I like the mixing of mechanics from the different rules to create a narrative while having enjoyable games.