June 7, 1915.
Captain George Patton listened from atop his command Monitor tank as the lieutenant gestured and spoke frantically from the ground below. If the reports were right, a large force of Martian tripods were heading straight for his section of the line, apparently intent on forcing a breakthrough. He chewed at an unlit cigar as the younger junior officer continued to talk. The Martians couldn't have picked a worst place to attack - the Mississippi was at its shallowest and thinnest here, and wouldn't present much trouble for the gangly, metallic monsters.
"Goddamned three-legged bastards," Patton muttered, half to himself. The lieutenant stopped, unsure if he should continue at the risk of interrupting his commanding officer. Patton saved him the trouble. "Is the infantry in position?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," the lieutenant replied. "Tucked up against the river banks and dug in as far as they can go."
"We'll just have to hope it's enough," Patton said, watching a column of armored infantry march past his vehicle and into the woods. Patton pointed at the lieutenant. "Get back to your post, son. We probably don't have much longer."
The lieutenant nodded and saluted, then ran off to join the infantry in the dense trees and underbrush.
Patton looked up at the distant roar of motorcycle engines, and could see the scouting squad of Rough Riders returning. They were coming back early, which meant the Martians wouldn't be far behind...
And Memphis had run out of time.
I recently had the opportunity to try out a game of All Quiet on the Martian Front. I didn't have the opportunity to participate in the Kickstarter, and no one I know plays locally, but thanks to Dennis and company at On Military Matters I finally got the chance to see how the game works.
The scenario was an attack by the Martians, who started on one table edge and had to pass to the other to score points. In their way was a combination of U.S. infantry and steam tanks.
While many of the human infantry units started the game hidden, those on the front line who weren't were instead heavily dug in. They lined the river, knowing that it would impede the tripods' progress for at least a turn.
The human's also had a great deal of armor ready to respond against the Martian assault, with squads of steam tanks, mobile artillery, and Captain Patton in a Monitor (that huge tank with all the guns). My favorite models for the humans were probably the Rough Riders, especially the guy with the machine gun laid across the handlebars of his motorcycle.
The Martians consisted of six Assault tripods, three Scouts, and a Slaver with three Drones.
Dennis said that all the paint jobs for the miniatures had been done by one of the guys at Architects of War, and they were fantastic!
The Martians were split into three groups - as there were three Martian commanders - and planned to come at the humans in a single wave.
As the Martians approached the Mississippi, the humans opened fire. The Martian's heavily armored tripods withstood the attack and pressed on, revealing some of the hiding infantry.
The tripods under my command moved up along the right flank, pushing into the densely forested area, aiming to take out the human command post.
The other two groups of Martians advanced against the other group of dug-in infantry, who managed to destroy a tripod. The result explosion pinged against the armor of the tripods in range, but the damage was insignificant.
Once they were through, the Martians wasted no time and focused on the greatest threat - the Monitor! Patton was forced to make a run for the rear after a heat ray swept through his tank, destroying it.
My tripods advanced further into the woods, taking fire from machine guns, rifles and grenades. Waves of armored infantry tried to hold the tripods back, but both sides were equally ineffectual in close quarters.
The infantry hidden by the fork of the river, supported by one of the steam tanks, had a better time of it, destroying the approaching scout tripod.
A lucky strike from the armored doughboys destroyed the other scout tripod. Unfortunately, the resulting explosion wiped out every human unit in the woods!
On the other flank, the humans were having a better time, with three tripods down and another so severely damaged that its Martian pilot was fighting against its controls. The humans took heavy losses as well, losing much of their infantry and the unit of Rough Riders.
The remaining two tripods destroyed the unit of tanks in the orchard, forcing the artillery to fall back. The last of the steam tanks rolled up against the hedgerow and started to fire on the Martians.
I decided to swing my Martians into the flanks of the steam tank platoon. They pushed through the hedgerow and spun around, but with both sides deep in foliage, hits were few and far between.
One more tripod fell, but at this point the humans conceded - there was no way the remaining humans were going to stop all the Tripods before being wiped out. And with that, the breakthrough was complete, and the Martians strode onward as klaxons began to blare in Memphis.
All Quiet on the Martian Front turned out to be a fantastic game, and I found it both easy to pick up and deep enough to want to try it again. If there's one bad thing I can say about the game, it's that I know want to buy the starter set!